By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2009 ( – Celebration over the dramatic victory of a pro-life amendment in the House health care bill late Saturday night was quickly dimmed by the passage of the bill, which not only presents a plethora of other dangers, but also could lose even the hard-won pro-life language in later proceedings.

At approximately 10:20 p.m. EST Saturday night, the U.S. House voted 240-194 to approve an amendment to H.R. 3962 that maintains long-standing federal policy on abortion by banning government-appropriated funds from covering elective abortions.  Then, just before 11 p.m., House lawmakers voted 220-215 to pass the massive health care overhaul.  One Republican voted for the bill.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the passage of the pro-life amendment “a huge pro-life victory” and congratulated the bipartisan effort against the bill's abortion coverage.  “We applaud this House vote which prohibits the abortion industry from further profiting from taxpayers by using government funds to pay for the gruesome act of abortion,” he said.

“Unfortunately, H.R. 3962 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation,” said Perkins, who pointed out the bill's massive governmental power grab and open door to health care rationing, among other issues.

National Right to Life's Douglas Johnson agreed that the victory was not total.  “Today's bipartisan House vote is a sharp blow to the White House's pro-abortion smuggling operation,” he said. 

“But we know that the White House and pro-abortion congressional Democratic leaders will keep trying to enact government funding of abortion, and will keep trying to conceal their true intentions, so there is a long battle ahead.”

Pro-abort leaders across America flew into a rage as the pro-life Stupak amendment, unexpectedly approved for consideration Friday night, went on to gain an easy victory Saturday.  Many pointed fingers at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), whose input several lawmakers relied on to discern solidly pro-life amendments for the bill.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and anti-choice opponents were able to hijack the health care reform bill in their dedicated attempt to ban all legal abortion In the United States,” said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in a statement late Saturday.

Yet various sources confirm that Pelosi's last-minute turnaround was not a true abandonment of her abortion allies, but a temporary concession to keep the struggling bill alive – with hopes that a subsequent bicameral version would scrap the pro-life language.  There is a larger pro-abortion majority in the Senate, making it unlikely a similar pro-life scenario would play out on the Senate floor.

Some Democrat lawmakers have already vowed to pursue such a reversal.

“I feel certain [the Stupak amendment] will come out of the bill before it comes back from committee,” pro-abortion California Democrat Lynn Woolsey told The Hill. “I will insist that it come out.”

Ultimately pro-life leaders appeared to agree that the amendment, though important in its own right, put hardly a dent in an otherwise massively dangerous bill.

Noted FRC's Perkins: “The Speaker's bill still allows rationing of health care for seniors, raises health costs for families, mandates that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, encourages counseling for assisted suicide in some states, does not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers and seeks to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizen's lives.”

American Life League president Judie Brown had harsh words for the USCCB's cooperative attitude toward the legislation.  While aggressively promoting the long-standing ban on federal abortion funding, the Conference has largely not questioned other dangerous aspects of President Obama's overhaul – a position Brown says risks making the bishops “political pawns in advancing a culture of death that treats human life as disposable.”

“[The health bill's] instrumentalist approach to abortion will serve to enshrine in law grave injustices condemned unequivocally by the Catholic Church,” she said.  “Among these are rationed health care, In vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, human experimentation, euthanasia and birth control.

“Faithful Catholics have a responsibility to vigorously oppose abortion in healthcare, not negotiate the status quo.”

See related coverage:

NY Times: Dems Banking on Later Squeezing Pro-Life Language Out of Bill in Committee

Major Health Care Development – Pro-Life Stupak Amendment Vote OK'd for Today